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Ruaraidh Murray: ‘Edinburgh is a vital showroom for artists’

Ruaraidh Murray. Photo: Brandon Bishop

When Murray started finding less work as an actor, he decided to begin creating his own. He tallks to Georgia Snow as his latest show runs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Have you always written and performed in your own work?

After drama school, I came to London and I had the big agent and I got lots of work. I was working with people like Ray Winstone and Daniel Craig, and, to be honest, I don’t think I was as focused as I could have been. There were other temptations and I was still quite young. I found myself with less work, so I thought: “I’m going to have to do this myself to a certain degree,” so I started to write as well. I was part of the Royal Court young writers’ group, and also at the Traverse before I left Scotland, so it was always there, but I suppose it happened a bit out of necessity. I made something out of that experience and it ended up being my first solo show.

What is this show about?

It’s set in a club in the 1990s, which was called the Tardis, and I worked there when I first came to London. It was in Clerkenwell and it was a door in a brick wall, but inside it was like a tardis, it was huge. It was the late 1990s, early 2000s, and there were loads of celebrities that would go there: artists, musicians, actors. For me, straight from drama school, it was a real shock to the system. There were all these wonderful characters. I just had to write something about it. The show I wrote last year was very hard-hitting, and this one is an out-and-out comedy. It’s a dark comedy and there are moving moments, but I’m out to make people laugh with this one.

Does that come easily to you?

I love the darker side of life, yes. People have enough going on in their lives, so to make people laugh really hard… maybe at the end there is a little tear, but I hope they have forgotten about their worries for the last hour.

What was your first acting experience?

It was when I was really young. I did a school play and my friend’s mum was an agent, and she saw me and auditioned me for a movie – I got thrown off a bridge in the first scene of a Channel 4 film. That experience really stuck with me, I suppose people talk about a bug. I just remember, as a 10-year-old boy, I saw all the actors and I thought: “I would like some of that.” Once I left school and I joined the Traverse Theatre young writers’ group, I became fascinated by theatre, as well. I didn’t go to drama school until I was 21, but I think that early experience definitely stuck with me.

How important is Edinburgh to artists such as yourself?

For me, it’s vital. It has been an amazing opportunity and I wouldn’t be where I am now had I not started Edinburgh. Essentially it’s a showroom, and also the people you meet there are amazing. One introduction can lead to some sort of work.

The Club runs at Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh [1], until August 29